Velvet Is Off, Summer Is Over, Now What?

By Nathan Unger

Twitter: @Bulldawgoutdoor
Instagram: @Bulldawgoutdoors

Early season is upon us whitetail enthusiasts, and for the most part bucks have rubbed their velvet clean off revealing hardened antlers that they will carry all fall and winter. However, when bucks shed their velvet it’s almost as if they become a whole different animal to hunt. With that in mind, there is good news and bad news.

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Bad News: Bucks seemingly become harder to pattern.

Bucks, for the most part, are no longer on their bed-to-food-only pattern. While some may keep this pattern exclusively many are preparing for the seeking and chasing phase of the rut. They’re looking for does and doe bedding.

Good News: Bucks break off from their summer bachelor groups.

This, in theory, creates a higher chance for you, the hunter, to get a shot at one. While bucks are not rutting yet their testosterone levels are steadily increasing. If you’re like me, hunting a smaller land parcel, the bucks may have been venturing through every couple of days or even every other week. Now that they are broken off the likelihood of you seeing one could be more frequent as they hopefully travel more often.

Bad News: You probably shouldn’t check trail cameras every week.

The more you go check your camera the higher probability of leaving something behind for that mature buck to smell. Eventually, that buck will pattern you and stay clear whenever he gets the slightest glimpse or whiff of you in the woods.

Good News: You increase your odds by not checking trail cameras

By not checking your camera as frequently you are enhancing your odds of running into a mature buck. Even better, if you have the means to purchase a cellular camera you won’t have to defile the area at all.

Bad News: Mature bucks prove why they are mature.

Mature bucks will start to travel less frequently during the day. Why? There are several reasons. Here are a few:

  • They start to feel pressure from hunters
  • Food sources are changing.
  • Habitat and bedding are altering.

Good News: It’s time to start hunting that mature buck

This is why we as hunters do what we love. This is why we hunt. The chase. The camaraderie. The venison. The chess match. This is what brings us back each and every year.

So good luck and good hunting!

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors blog. Follow him on Twitter @Bulldawgoutdoor, Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors and subscribe on YouTube @Bulldawgoutdoors.

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Analyzing Terrain Features on Small Properties

By Nathan Unger

Twitter: @Bulldawgoutdoor
Instagram: @Bulldawgoutdoors

Small properties might be some of the most overlooked gems in the deer hunting world. While it’s difficult to keep and sustain mature bucks on the property for any amount of time it can be favorable to pattern them as their passing through.

That being said an ideal parcel will have bedding areas nearby that keep the deer close. Locating these and setting up accordingly could pay big dividends.

Keeping in that in mind, a hunter needs to identify the terrain features that sprinkle the landscape. Okay, so how do we do that?

1.) Scout from an observation stand

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You might have to get creative with this one depending on the layout of your property. Take ample time to observe how the deer utilize the contours of the land to get from point A to point B. One of the small parcels I hunt took me nearly three years to figure out how the deer moved throughout it. Now, that might have been one year too long. I didn’t rigorously hunt this property the first year I had permission to hunt.

This leads me to my next point.

2.) Only hunt optimal conditions

I cannot stress this enough. If you hunt too much or when the wind isn’t in your favor it could mess up your whole season. Deer notice when someone is in their bedroom or trekking through their territory. The last thing you want is to force your only one or two mature bucks to go nocturnal or to shift their core areas.

3.) Enable good entrance and exit routes

Entering and exiting your stand is of the utmost importance. I’m still learning this. If you bump deer going into your stand good luck trying to make amends the rest of the season. Even worse if a mature buck sees AND smells your presence you might as well do one of two things. Hunt only the rut or find a different hunting property. Access is that important and might be the difference in a successful or unsuccessful season.

4.) Identify prime treestand sites

Because you’re hunting a small parcel your stand sites are limited. You have to consider the aforementioned access routes and wind tendencies. Placing a stand in the correct spot will change the game on small acreage. Try to get as a high as possible in your set, yet still staying safe. You might have to go up a hill or climb 5 to 10 more feet vertically. This will give you a better chance of getting above any air current that might be swirling where you are hunting.

Here’s the kicker. A majority of the time in order to be successful on small parcels all of these previously mentioned points must be put into action.

Good luck and good hunting!

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors blog. Follow him on Twitter @Bulldawgoutdoor, Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors and subscribe on YouTube @Bulldawgoutdoors.

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Five Do’s And Don’ts Before Deer Season

Summer can be very busy, but summertime can also be very productive if you set your mind to it. The months of June, July and August are the three months every hunter should be thinking about October, November and December and for some even September. Here are five do’s and don’ts of summer that will help you identify what needs to be accomplished before the season opener.

…But first, if you have not SUBSCRIBED yet to our social media please take a few seconds do so as we are constantly putting out content for our audience.

Do: Check all your gear

This always comes back to bite me every year, because there’s that one item I didn’t think about replacing or buying a new one before the season opened, and I find myself scrambling for the funds to purchase it after I’ve already purchased deer stands, arrows, broadheads, food plot blend, etc. Whether it’s bug spray, new socks or a scent eliminator be sure to check every item before the season begins. Then, check one more time and you won’t regret it.

Do: Spend time with the family

I can’t stress this enough. Don’t spend all summer at your hunting property. Pick a day or two to get things done and don’t go back until September unless you have to. You are going to be gone all of October and November, and the best thing you can do for your family over the summer is give them the time they deserve, especially if you’re taking a week or two for your rut vacation.

Don’t: Give too much credence to summer scouting

Bucks with velvet act a lot different after they rub their velvet clean off. They shift their core areas, they break out of their bachelor groups and some will hardly move anymore during the daylight hours. The average hunter cannot form too much of a game plan in July or August of where to hunt the hit-list buck because when the velvet comes off that buck’s testosterone level increases, and he essentially becomes a new man. If you’re using trail cameras take note of the pictures your getting but don’t get too excited just yet.

Do: Clean out the freezer

Unless you have four or five deep freezers it’s time to start cooking burgers, grilling steaks and marinating back strap. After you harvest your first deer you’re going to need room in the freezer. This will also be a good excuse not to go out to eat, in turn, saving you money for more important items like arrows and new camouflage before the season.

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Using a water hole can be a deadly setup, especially during the early season when it’s hot and there has been little rain.

Don’t: Get behind on preparation

This is huge. When archery season begins you don’t want to find yourself playing catch up. Shoot your bow, set up your tree stands, check your release, set up your blind and the list goes on and on. I’ve found out over the years that the more prepared I am the more success I have in the deer woods. Waterholes, like the one shown above can be deadly. Make sure to freshen up the water as often as possible so the deer won’t be harmed by bacteria growing in the heat.

The more scouting I do beforehand the better my odds when I’m making a move on that big, mature buck. If I get my food plot planted, fertilized and watered with enough time the better chance I have of drawing deer within shooting range.

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors blog. Follow him on Twitter @Bulldawgoutdoor, Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors and subscribe on YouTube @Bulldawgoutdoors.

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Have you started preparing for fall hunting season yet? Here’s how you can create a poor man’s food plot on a small budget.

Yes, it’s time already to begin your summer preparation for the fall whitetail season. Food plots, trail camera surveys and mineral sites are just a few items on the list that will lead to a higher success rate when hunting this fall.

It seems no matter how hard I try to stay ahead of the game there’s always something I should have done already to prepare for next season. Deer hunting can definitely be a year-round process even if you don’t work in the industry for a living.

In this webisode we’ll show you how we are preparing our ‘poor man’s’ plot by spraying the weeds and privet to create more room for our food plot to grow and to cut down on the invasive species.

If you haven’t already you can subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with what we’re doing during the off season as well as watch videos from turkey season.

We finished spraying the weeds and privet with a weed killer we bought from our local hardware store. You might also be wondering why I am wearing goggles. Especially when it’s windy, the spray can irritate your eyes, so be sure to be equipped with the proper safety precautions.

Additionally, ticks are bad this time of year. Make sure to spray down with bug spray to prevent ticks and tick bites as this could later hamper your hunting season.

Be sure to stay tuned as we check back in a couple of weeks to begin tilling and planting for the summer and/or fall.

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors blog. Follow him on Twitter @Bulldawgoutdoor, Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors and subscribe on YouTube @Bulldawgoutdoors.

Bulldawg Outdoors is brought to you by:

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Summer Prep: Poor Man’s Plot, Trail Cameras and Mineral Sites.

These 3 late season scouting tactics will get you ready for next season.

As deer season nears to a close several hunters are packing it in for the winter months. They might try harvesting one or two more does for the freezer or try for that elusive giant that seems to be skirting daylight hours. Whatever the case may be, there are late season scouting tactics that could prove helpful for next year’s season.

Seek Out Bedding

A tactic that could make the entire difference in your deer season next year is locating bedding areas. Because much of the flora has lost its spring density deer are more limited to where they can bed – unless you created several bedding areas by hinge cutting in the off season.  However, knowing where these bedding areas are could be dynamite for the rut, especially doe bedding areas. Additionally, this knowledge of bedding areas will provide a head start for locating buck movement during the late season next year.

Know the Food

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Depending on the crop year depends on where whitetails congregate throughout the season. If orchards are present on your land then that might be the early season food of choice. If you planted clover then deer might prefer that throughout the summer and early fall. There are so many options it really takes knowing what your deer herd prefers. Also identifying what’s naturally growing on your hunting parcel will you give an idea of what deer eat on a day-to-day basis.

This year in southern Virginia we had a large white oak acorn crop. Deer, especially mature bucks, did not need to move as much because the acorns were literally feet from their bed. The hard part was figuring out which bed they were in. The catch 22 was that a neighboring property timbered several acres three years ago, and just this year the secondary succession was perfect for deer bedding. Needless to say it was quite the chess match.

However, if you don’t have a bumper acorn crop where are the deer focusing their feeding movements? Is it a cut corn field? Could it be alfalfa or brassica? It could be any or all of these. What’s pertinent is that you find what the deer are feeding on in your region. Up until this point this season, deer still are not feeding on the brassica which they have enjoyed in the past three years. It might just take another month or so before they shift to this. Unfortunately, it might be a month too late. Know what your deer feed on when, and it could be the difference of harvesting or not harvesting a mature buck this winter.

Find the Travel Routes

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Late season can be tough because many deer become nocturnal and wait in staging areas until it gets dark. Find these staging areas, hang a stand, make sure the wind is in your favor and wait. I’ve witnessed deer hold up right inside a wood line until dark. I’m sure many of you have witnessed this as well. The reason is because deer have been pressured by hunters all year and are more wary of predators.

Simultaneously, you can begin looking at these funnels and pinch points for clues to next year’s season. Observe where these deer are moving and ask yourself, “why are the deer being funneled this way?” Is there a terrain feature? Is it the wind? Are there drainages that are impossible for the deer to cross? Search these out and take advantage of where it forces the deer. Sometimes in the winter it can be easier to identify these funnels, drainages and crossings because the leaves have fallen and line of sight is clearer.

Whatever your goals are for late season hunting, make sure to take every advantage to scout for the next year as well.It could be the difference.

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors Facebook page. Follow him on Twitter @Bulldawgoutdoor and on Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors.

NEXT:3 Keys to Late Season Success

3 Tactics to Late Season Scouting

These 3 keys to late season success will give you a great chance at harvesting a mature buck. 

By Nathan Unger

For many hunters the rut is what they plan their annual vacation around. There is nothing wrong with that. The deer are moving, chasing, seeking and rutting and can make for an eventful hunt in the tree stand. However, one of my favorite times to hunt is from the last week in November  until the end of the season.

Mature bucks revert back to their feeding patterns that provide hunters a great opportunity for a harvest. Here are some keys to successfully bagging a bruiser buck during frigid temps and food shortages.

Food

Whitetails need food just as much as humans and other animals require sustenance in order to survive. Depending on where you are hunting deer may need more food. For example deer in Kansas may require more food during the snowy, winter months than, say, deer in Florida.Snow and cold temperatures are going to get deer moving and searching for high caloric food in order to maintain body heat and energy. It is true that mature bucks become nocturnal more so than they are in the rut. This could be from hunting pressure, less energy or just preservation of body heat. However, they have to feed periodically in order to survive.

Trail Cameras

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Caleb Unger with his 4 1/2 year old he encountered and harvested on December 19, 2015.

If you are going to pattern a late season buck you need trail cameras. If you can pinpoint his movements in and out of his bedding area your chances increase drastically. The deer may only move 10 minutes before shooting light ends, so the use of trail cameras will help you locate his movements with minimum pressure on his home range. We pinpointed this deer with trail cameras throughout the unseasonably hot temperatures of the 2015 season. But on the first day of a cold snap, Unger capitalized on a food source as this buck was on his way back to bed.

Warm Clothes

I cannot stress enough how important the right clothing for late season hunting can be. It could be the difference between staying out for several hours or calling it quits at dusk because of the lack of feeling in your toes. Trust me, been there, done that. I make sure I have ample clothing, but not too much where it prohibits circulation. I also take along hand and feet warmers which have changed the length of time I’m able to stay in the woods during winter.

One last note I wanted to make. If you define success differently these tactics can still be useful. If you are simply trying to fill the freezer food sources and trail cameras remain important tools for the job. However you define success be sure to get out and hunt. The season is almost over!

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors blog. Follow him on Twitter @Bulldawgoutdoor and on Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors.

NEXT:Using Trail Camera Surveys to Your Advantage

3 Keys to Late Season Success

Three Deer Stand Locations That Will Lead to Success

By Nathan Unger

Each summer, as hunters, we’re often faced with the conundrum of where to place our deer stands for the coming deer season. Deer stand locations are important because it could be the difference between harvesting that big whitetail you’ve been dreaming about all summer long.

Hunters have to ask themselves a few questions before they set up stands:

Should I place a stand where I’m seeing summer bachelor group bucks?

Male whitetail home ranges can vary drastically once their velvet comes off and their testosterone level increases. Bucks will move from food-to-bedding patterns in the summer to  looking for and chasing does in the fall.

These deer stand locations will account for some of these changes in home ranges, and will ultimately lead to success will a little bit of buck luck.

Find the food

three deer stand locations

The first location that will be good for the entire season is on the edge of a food source that is downwind of a bedding area where it funnels into that food source. This could include a food plot or a crop field.

If your state has an early bow season this could still be highly successful under the correct weather and pressure conditions in the early season as bucks are still easily patterned. Likewise, if the bedding area is a doe bedroom those bucks will be cruising all around during the rut and into December and January.

This is probably my favorite set-up because it’s good all year long.

The key? Early season scouting before dark or with trail cameras to see where the deer are entering the food sources to help narrow down which tree to precisely put a stand in.

Locate funnels

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A diagram of bedding areas, stand locations and food sources.

While some of this terminology may be more familiar in the western states they can still be applied in south where I do most of my hunting.

There have been several times that I have bumped deer because I thought there was no way they would be located on a certain hillside or in a certain ravine, but over the years it seems as if they prefer certain terrain to better smell approaching predators.

Funnels are a specific point where several paths intersect that deer prefer to travel because of terrain features or obstacles.

The key? Make sure your stand is on the downwind side of these funnels and that you’ve done your research on where that buck is traveling from.

A lot of times that mature buck will make a ‘J-hook’ to sniff out the area before entering a certain location. Oftentimes this is specific to bedding, however deer don’t always follow the rules.

These can be successful during the rut primarily as bucks are chasing does and can be careless from time to time especially if the wind is in your favor.

Identify benches

These unique, topographical ledges are exactly what they sound like. Imagine a hillside being the backboard of a bench and the seat being an off-shoot of that hill. These off-shoots are some of mature bucks favorite bedding areas because they can see anything coming from below them and smell anything coming from above them.

Numerous times have I gotten too close to these areas and bumped deer because they caught my scent. Setting up a stand on the downwind side of the entrance to these benches will be great sites to place a stand.

Diagram

The diagram above highlights food sources, “F”, bedding areas are marked with a purple circle,”X” marks stand locations and the purple lines are streams running through the property. The three X’s that are immediately adjacent to the red borders are the funnels specific to this property where the terrain or stream forces deer into this specific location.

The X’s that are not located on a food sources or immediately next to the red border are benches where the deer will sometimes bed or travel in between food sources or bedding areas.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment. By no means is this a one-size-fits-all formula, but for the majority it will lead to hunting success this season.

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors blog. Follow him on Twitter@Bulldawgoutdoor and on Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors

NEXT:New to Mineral Stations? This Will Help.